It’s Valentine’s Day and two couples in Tunkhannock have a extra special reason to celebrate.
Robert and Lucille Hobbes have been married for 65 years, while Alfred and Eleanor Pero have marked 66 years of wedded bliss.
Both Lucille and Eleanor are residents of The Gardens in Tunkhannock.
Each day, Robert and Alfred visit their wives, having lunch, and providing them with company and comfort.
“We were married at the end of January in Moscow in the middle of a blizzard,” Alfred Pero recalled. “Not all of our relatives could get out of Philadelphia.”
The year was 1952. Both Alfred and Eleanor were born in 1928. Eleanor grew up just outside of Dallas, while Alfred was raised in Philadelphia.
“I met her at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital,” Alfred said. “She worked in the dinette, and I worked in the paint department.”
The two dated for a couple of years, but their relationship faced a bit of a challenge.
“Her mother didn’t approve of me,” Alfred explained.
As a result, Eleanor was sent to a facility near Mt. Pisgah, N.C., to study to become a licensed practice nurse. When she returned home, Alfred proposed to her.
“I told her we can live in sin, or we can get married. So we got married,” Alfred said.
The Peros eventually moved to Chicago, where Alfred worked for General Mills.
“My wife was a house keeper,” Alfred explained. “She never worked (professionally) after we got married.”
The two had a son, Elwood, and Eleanor was kept busy raising the boy.
“She always liked to sew,” Alfred explained. “She was always good at baking. She was a good housekeeper and a good mother. At a time when you could keep your wife at home.”
Asked what he and Eleanor considered to be the greatest challenge in their years of marriage, Alfred replied, without hesitation: “Raising a son in Chicago. We never could get to sleep until we heard the door close.”
Alfred and Eleanor eventually relocated near Sacramento, Calif., where he continued to work for General Mills, until his retirement. About nine years ago, Eleanor suffered the first of a series of strokes, which made it difficult for her to speak and get around.
Deciding they had no real ties in California, the two decided to return to Pennsylvania.
“One time (early in their marriage) we had a disagreement,” Alfred recalled. “And she said ‘It takes two to argue, and I’m not going to argue. We never went to bed until we settled a disagreement. We love each other as much as the day we got married. She’s been a good wife. She’s always been a partner that’s my best friend.”
When Alfred asked Eleanor if she loved him, she replied: “Sure, all these years, I think so.”
Robert and Lucille Hobbes were also married in January, year after the Peros.
“It was a long time ago,” Robert said.
Robert is 86, and Lucille is 85. Although the two started going together while attending a youth group at a local church, Robert and Lucille have known each other all their lives, having grown up in Montandon.
“She was a year behind me. We met at school long before we became interested in each other.”
The two continued to date through college.
Robert attended Penn State, eventually earning a degree in agricultural education, while Lucille became certified as a legal secretary from a business college in Harrisburg.
Robert proposed to Lucille in September 1952
“We were sitting on a side porch (at Lucille’s home) on a double swing,” Robert explained. “That’s where I proposed to her and she accepted.”
After they were married, the two moved to Wyoming County, where Robert was an agent for the Penn State Extension Office, first in 4-H, and later serving as the county farm agent.
Lucille worked for many years as a legal secretary for the Tunkhannock Area School District. They have four sons - Bob, Glen, Larry and Wayne.
“One thing is we enjoy each other’s company,” Robert said about what he attributed to their long marriage.
He also gave full credit to Lucille for raising their sons - explaining that his job often kept him busy.
“There were lots of night meetings, which put a lot of the burden on her,” Robert explained. “But when you have a job, you do what your job calls for.”
Asked the greatest challenge they have faced in their marriage, Robert explained it is how he and Lucille must deal with the fact she suffers from Alzheimer’s.
“She been here since 2012,” Robert explained. “There are times she’s asked me ‘Did we have any children?’ That’s what Alzheimer’s does to you.”
Each day, Robert faithfully visits with Lucille at The Gardens.
“Each day is different,” he said.
Robert described a recent visit in which Lucille talked continuously.
“She asked a lot of questions, which I answered. Finally, I realized she wasn’t going to stop as long as I was in the room. So I left and when I returned a few minutes later, she had fallen asleep.”
Many times Lucille is lucid for only a few moments a day. Other days, she just sleeps.
“It’s a comfort to me when she can sleep,” he said.
Robert praised the caregivers at The Gardens for their diligence in making certain Lucille is comfortable and seeing to all her needs.
“We’re very pleased with the service here,” he said.